Skin Series: Oily and Sensitive?
There may be several of you out there that have the blessing/curse of having oily skin. Oily skin often has a bad rep because it’s associated with being shiny, feeling greasy, or being prone to breakouts. Don’t get me wrong, all of those things are still true, but oily skin comes with a lot of perks as well. Oily skin tends to not age as quickly because the sebum (term for oil) does a great job of keeping the skin lubricated and preventing wrinkles and fine lines. Oily skin also does well at retaining what is known as your NMF (Natural Moisturizing Factor). When skin is lipid-strong, it helps to trap in and hold water that your skin needs to stay hydrated and keep things moving the way they should.
The key to taking care of oily skin is maintaining a good balance between water and oil. Sometimes we oilies (might have just made up a new word there) tend to want scrub and scrape every drop of oil off our faces. That process can often end up dehydrating the skin, in which case your sebaceous glands (oil glands in our skin) will go into overdrive. That’s when you end up with the greasy/shiny/bumpy mess. So, although oily skin needs more exfoliation than dry skin, you have to go about it the right way.
Now let’s throw another monkey wrench into this circus and say you have sensitive skin too. That’s me – I was the girl in school that everyone was afraid to work on for fear of how my skin would react. Like if you looked at me wrong, my skin would turn red and irritated. So if you have oily and sensitive skin, you can have an even tougher job of knowing how to get rid of excess oil without ruffling the feathers of your oil/water balance.
So what’s the solution you may be wondering? Because my skin really needs exfoliation but can’t tolerate even some higher pH peels, I have really come to love enzymes. I like to describe enzymes to clients as little pac-man that go around eating up all the bad stuff so the good stuff can peek its head out again. Enzymes are a lot of times favored by people with sensitive skin because they are not acid based like glycolic, salicylic, or other peels. Some acid-based peels are just too harsh for sensitive skin, so enzymes are a much better option to achieve the same result.
Some common enzyme ingredients to look for are papain which comes from papaya, and bromelain which comes from pineapple. You may often see professional skin care lines refer to these types of products as ‘enzyme peels’. Depending on your skin type and tolerance, enzymes can be used anywhere from 1-2 times per week. Some enzymes even have textured exfoliants in them like jojoba beads, crushed almonds, or sodium bicarbonate crystals (fancy word for baking soda). These particles paired with enzymes do double duty of mechanically and chemically clearing away dead skin cells and removing excess oil. So, if you are an oily like me with sensitive skin to boot, talk with your esthetician about whether or not an enzyme peel is right for you. 🙂